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Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY

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« Reply #30 on: December 07, 2008, 01:11:56 pm »



Casa Cohen.

Spanish tiles are evidence of the former Jewish owners wealth
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« Reply #31 on: December 07, 2008, 01:13:34 pm »












Every Friday evening approximately 50 community members gather for their prayers. The room is painted in white and a flight of stairs from the second floor leads to its entrance. Brown colored mahogany chairs, a couple of benches with plastic seating pads, a simple table with the flag of Israel, a reproduction of a dancing Rebbe and a board with Hebrew letters decorate the praying hall.

“The book of prayers has brought us together again”, says Miguel Bensús. The 24 year old is the prayer leader. “We help each other because for decades much of what represents being Jewish has been lost”, the chemistry student says. A big silver chain with the star of David hangs around his neck. Even on the street or at the university he is wearing his Kippah.

The story of Miguel Bensús puts a spotlight on the history “of the forgotten Jews of Iquitos”. His great-grandfather emigrated from North Africa and married a native Peruvian. Though the majority of his descendants was raised and educated Jewish and circumcised, “halakhically they were not Jews”, Bensús says.

In catholic schools worship was mandatory. Those who filed to appear for Sunday’s mass were punished with bad grades. “Many have mingled Jewish customs with catholic rituals and stories and stayed with it. Others lost their roots completely in the brushes of external influences.” The Jewish cemetery is adjacent to the catholic cemetery; the gate with the Star of David is locked with a heavy iron chain.
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« Reply #32 on: December 07, 2008, 01:15:22 pm »

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« Reply #33 on: December 07, 2008, 01:17:01 pm »









Miguel Bensús is standing at the grave of his great-grandfather Abrahams Bensús Benamú. “Even though there is a Jewish cemetery, which is now culturally protected as Peruvian national heritage, we never had a synagogue. And nobody has an explanation for it”, says community chairman Abramovitz.

“Not until the 1940’s and 50’s descendants of Jewish immigrants began to refer to their roots. Initiated by Victor Ederig, a new congregation formed in the 1960’s and people started to gather for service: in Ederig’s tavern “La Sirena“. We owe it to Don Victor that we still have a community today“, Abramovitz points out.

“Iquitos was a world all by itself”, says Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein who lives in the Peruvian capital of Lima. The Rabbi of the conservative “Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto de 1870” visited the Jews in Iquitos for the first time in 1991.

Afterwards a new stage began for the Jewish descendants. “About 30 to 40 families lived there at the time, some with their great-grandparents, grandparents, nephews and cousins, up to 15 family members scattered throughout the wide jungle”, the Rabbi recounts. “I suggested a conversion to Judaism, provided that their descent from at least one Jewish parent was traceable.”
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« Reply #34 on: December 07, 2008, 01:17:59 pm »



Casa Israel

For years the highest house in Iquitos
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« Reply #35 on: December 07, 2008, 01:19:54 pm »









A majority accepted Bronstein’s suggested path leading back to their Jewish roots. Each Friday people willing to convert gathered for mass. Bronstein sent photocopies of prayer books and collected works on Judaism. The congregation began to create a list of Jewish descendants in the region. “In the third or fourth generation the names of the Jewish ancestors from Morocco had to be found. Even a catholic minister and municipalities in Morocco helped us in our genealogical research”, Bronstein described the criteria.

Nearly ten years later “the seeking for traces” ended for 98 inhabitants of Iquitos with a festive service and ritual circumcision. “We had a Mohel flown in from the United States”, Bronstein says. Two years ago an additional 240 descendants of Jewish immigrants converted to Judaism at a ceremony in a hotel in Iquitos. “Almost everyone has immigrated to Israel by now”, says Abramovitz. In the meantime, some people have also converted under orthodox rituals.

The lucky ones who can count on such a well-informed tour guide like Abramovitz still find numerous traces of former Jewish inhabitants of Iquitos. The foamed plastic merchant stops less than 50 meters away from his store and points to a one-story corner building that almost occupies a quarter of the whole block.
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« Reply #36 on: December 07, 2008, 01:24:56 pm »



Riva Abramowitz, Miguel Bensos and Jorge Abramowitz
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« Reply #37 on: December 07, 2008, 01:34:20 pm »








At the “Casa Cohen” people stock up on building material, housewares and food, before they return to their hamlets at the Amazon river banks.

The Spanish tiles decorating the outside walls are evidence of the former Jewish owners wealth. “The trading company “Casa Israel” was known in the whole region”, Abramovitz says. Their own ships picked up the raw rubber material from the collectors in the jungle and provided them with all kinds of supply needed for their survival in the wilderness.

“For decades the “Casa Israel” used to be the highest house in Iquitos and for decades Jewish mayors governed the city”.

The Jews of Iquitos have gathered for another service at the synagogue. The small congregation sings in Hebrew. “We want to stay here and live out our Jewishness”, says Jorge Abramovitz.






Information:



3,000 of 28 million:

About 3,000 Jews live in Peru today.





Three synagogues exist in the capital of Lima.


The Asociación Judia de Beneficencía y Culto de 1870 is conservative,

the Union Israelita del Perú (Ashkenazi) and

the Sociedad de Beneficiencia Israelita Sefardí is orthodox.



All three communities are united within the Asociacion Judia del Peru.






Apart from B’nai B’rith Loge and the Hebraica Club, a culture- and sport community, the Jewish community in Lima has its own school, the Colegio “León Pinelo“, one of the best private schools in
the country with its approximately 28 million inhabitants.






Book Reference:



Ariel Segal -

“Jews of the Amazon: Self-Exile in Earthly Paradise”

Jewish Publication Society of America,
Philadelphia,
Nov 1999,
342p.
ISBN: 0827606699



http://journalperu.com/?p=319
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« Reply #38 on: December 07, 2008, 01:42:48 pm »





                            








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« Last Edit: December 07, 2008, 01:48:45 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #39 on: December 07, 2008, 01:52:26 pm »



Sephardic Jewish pirate Jean Lafitte











                                              Ahoy, mateys ! Thar be Jewish pirates!






By Adam Wills
September 14, 2006

There's no arrr-guing that pirates are in.
 
As of last weekend, Disney had plundered $1 billion worldwide with "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," and International Talk Like a Pirate Day -- that's Sept. 19, for you landlubbers -- has gone from an inside joke between two friends to a mock holiday celebrated in more than 40 countries.

Yet tales of Jewish piracy, which stretch back thousands of years, aren't in the public's consciousness, and Hollywood even has been known to remove a pirate's Jewish background. As a result, we're stuck with portrayals of pirates as wayward English seamen on a murderous rampage.

But now a forthcoming book hopes to change that image by focusing on Ladino-speaking Jews whose piracy grew out of the Inquisition. "The Jewish pirates were Sephardic. Once they were kicked out of Spain [in 1492], the more adventurous Jews went to the New World," said Ed Kritzler, whose yet-untitled book on Jewish pirates will be published by Doubleday in spring 2007.

Jewish piracy has been around since well before the Barbary pirates first preyed on ships during the Crusades. In the time of the Second Temple, Jewish historian Flavius Josephus records that Hyrcanus accussed Aristobulus of "acts of piracy at sea."

Kritzler has studied pirates for 40 years, and said that the public is fascinated with them because they're "rugged individuals in a world of conformity. They carved their own identity, independent of the rules and strictures of society."

But determining the exact number of Jewish pirates is difficult, Kritzler said, because many of them traveled as Conversos, or converts to Christianity, and practiced their Judaism in secret.

While some Jews, like Samuel Pallache, took up piracy in part to help make a better life for expelled Spanish Jews, Kritzler said others were motivated by revenge for the Inquisition.

One such pirate was Moses Cohen Henriques, who helped plan one of history's largest heists against Spain. In 1628, Henriques set sail with Dutch West India Co. Admiral Piet Hein, whose own hatred of
Spain was fueled by four years spent as a galley slave aboard a Spanish ship. Henriques and Hein
boarded Spanish ships off Cuba and seized shipments of New World gold and silver worth in today's
dollars about the same as Disney's total box office for "Dead Man's Chest."

Henriques set up his own pirate island off the coast of Brazil afterward, and even though his role in the raid was disclosed during the Spanish Inquisition, he was never caught, Kritzler told The Journal.

Another Sephardic pirate played a pivotal role in American history. In the book "Jews on the Frontier" (Rachelle Simon, 1991), Rabbi I. Harold Sharfman recounts the tale of Sephardic Jewish pirate Jean Lafitte, whose Conversos grandmother and mother fled Spain for France in 1765, after his maternal grandfather was put to death by the Inquisition for "Judaizing."

Referred to as The Corsair, Lafitte went on to establish a pirate kingdom in the swamps of New Orleans, and led more than 1,000 men during the War of 1812. After being run out of New Orleans in 1817, Lafitte re-established his kingdom on the island of Galveston, Texas, which was known as Campeche. During Mexico's fight for independence, revolutionaries encouraged Lafitte to attack Spanish ships and keep the booty.

But in the 1958 film "The Buccaneer," starring Yul Brynner as Lafitte, any mention of the pirate's Jewish heritage was stripped away.

Arrrgh!
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« Reply #40 on: December 07, 2008, 03:22:30 pm »









                                                          M A R R A N O






Marranos or Secret Jews were Sephardic Jews (Jews resident in the Iberian peninsula) who were forced to adopt Christianity under threat of expulsion from Spain and Portugal. Although they converted to Catholicism, some continued secretly to practice Judaism. The term in Spanish meant "pigs; apparently, it was derived from a word in Arabic محرّم muharram used by peninsular Jews to refer to "ritually forbidden". It stemmed from the ritual prohibition practiced by both Jews and Muslims against eating pork. In Spanish, the term marrano acquired the meaning of "swine" or "filthy", but in contemporary Spanish it has no association with Jews. In Portuguese the word refers only to crypto-Jews, since pig or "swine" is said marrão or varrão.

These conversos (converts), as they were also called, numbered over 100,000 in the Iberian Peninsula[citation needed]. They were also known by the name of Cristianos nuevos and Cristãos novos (New Christians) in Spain and Portugal, respectively. They were called xuetes in Catalan, derived from xua, a Catalan word referring to a pork recipe consumed publicly by xuetes in the Balearic Isles to display the sincerity of their Catholicism. Hebrew-speakers called such converts anusim (constrained). (Anusim is a general word for forced converts from Judaism and is not specific to this period.)
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« Reply #41 on: December 07, 2008, 03:27:37 pm »









                  Types of Marranos (Conversos, or Judíos Escondidos - hidden Jews- Anoussim)


                     The Marranos and their descendants may be divided into three categories.






Conversos - New Christians



The first category comprised those who legitimately converted to Christianity, whether for expedience or faith. They raised their families as Christians. These were called "New Christians" or "Conversos."

A number of Spanish poets belong to this category, such as Pero Ferrus, Juan de Valladolid, Rodrigo Cota, and Juan de España of Toledo. De Espana, also called El Viejo (the old one), was considered a sound Talmudist. Like the monk Diego de Valencia, himself a baptized Jew, De Espana introduced in his pasquinades Hebrew and Talmudic words to mock the Jews. There were others who, for the sake of displaying their new zeal, persecuted their former co-religionists, writing books against them, and denouncing to the authorities those who wished to return to the faith of their forefathers, as happened frequently at Valencia, Barcelona, and many other cities (Isaac b. Sheshet, Responsa, No. 11).






Crypto Jews



The second category consisted of those who secretly held on to the Jewish faith in which they had been reared. These were known as Judíos Escondidos - hidden Jews. They preserved the traditions of their parents. Although some held high positions, they secretly attended synagogue, and fought and suffered for their religion. Many of the wealthiest Marranos of Aragon belonged to this category, including the Zaportas of Monzón, who were related by marriage to the royal house of Aragon; the Sanchez; the sons of Alazar Yusuf of Saragossa, who intermarried with the Cavalleria and the Santangel; the very wealthy Espes; the Paternoy, who came from the vicinity of Verdun to settle in Aragon; the Clemente; the sons of Moses Chamoro; the Villanova of Calatayud; the Coscon; and others.






Temporary Conversos






The third category, which was believed to have included the most Conversos, comprised those who yielded through stress of circumstances, but in their home life remained Jews and seized the first opportunity of openly avowing their faith.

They did not voluntarily take their children to the baptismal font; and if obliged to do so, on returning home they washed the place which had been sprinkled with water. They ate no pork, celebrated Passover, and gave oil to the synagogue.

"In the city of Seville an inquisitor said to the regent: 'My lord, if you wish to know how the Marranos keep the Sabbath, let us ascend the tower.' When they had reached the top, the former said to the latter: 'Lift up your eyes and look. That house is the home of a Marrano; there is one which belongs to another; and there are many more. You will not see smoke rising from any of them, in spite of the severe cold; for they have no fire because it is the Sabbath.'

Pretending that leavened bread did not agree with him, one Marrano ate unleavened bread throughout the year, in order that he might be able to partake of it at Passover without being suspected. At the festival on which the Jews blew the shofar, the Marranos went into the country and remained in the mountains and in the valleys, so that the sound might not reach the city. They employed a man specially to slaughter animals, drain away the blood, and deliver the meat at their homes, and another to circumcise secretly".

The Jews of that time judged the Marranos gently and indulgently; in Italy a special prayer was offered for them every Sabbath, asking that "God might lead them from oppression to liberty, from darkness to the light of religion."

To the Conversos who lived in secret conformity with Jewish law, the Rabbis applied the Talmudic passage: "Although he has sinned, he must still be considered a Jew". According to rabbinic law, anusim, who took the first opportunity of going to a foreign country and openly professing Judaism, were allowed to act as witnesses in religious matters.
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« Reply #42 on: December 07, 2008, 03:36:47 pm »









                                                      I N   P O R T U G A L






The Portuguese Conversos or Cristãos Novos clung faithfully to the religion of their fathers, bearing torture for their faith and identity.

In the early 20th century historian Samuel Schwartz wrote about a few Crypto-Jewish communities in northeastern Portugal (namely in Belmonte, Bragança, Miranda, Chaves, among others). Members had managed to survive more than four centuries without being fully assimilated into the Old Christian population. [1] The last remaining community in Belmonte officially returned to Judaism in the 1970s,
and opened a synagogue in 1996. In 2003, the Belmonte Project was founded under the auspices of
the American Sephardi Federation, to raise funds to acquire Judaic educational material and services
for the community, who then numbered 160-180.






Massacre at Lisbon



The church considered the Conversos neither Christians nor Jews, but atheists and heretics and the cause of a months-long plague that affected the city in 1506. On April 17, 1506, several Conversos were discovered who had in their possession "some lambs and poultry prepared according to Jewish custom; also unleavened bread and bitter herbs according to the regulations for the Passover, which festival they celebrated far into the night." Several of them were seized, but were released after a few days.

The populace, which had expected to see them punished, swore vengeance. On the same day on which the Conversos were liberated, the Dominicans displayed in a side-chapel of their church, where several New Christians were present, a crucifix and a reliquary in glass from which a peculiar light issued. A New Christian, who tried to explain the miracle as due to natural causes, was dragged from the church and killed by an infuriated woman.

A Dominican roused the populace still more. Friar João Mocho and the Aragonese friar Bernardo, crucifix in hand, were said to go through the streets of the city, crying "Heresy!" and calling upon the people to destroy the Conversos.  Attracted by the outcry, sailors from Holland, Zealand and others from ships in the port of Lisbon, joined the Dominicans and formed a mob with local men to pursue the Conversos of Lisbon.

The mob dragged innocent victims from their houses and some were slain. Even Old Christians who were, in any way, associated to or confused with New Christians were molested. Among the victims, and the most hated of all, was the tax-farmer João Rodrigo Mascarenhas, one of the wealthiest and most distinguished New Christians of Lisbon; his house was entirely demolished. In this manner many Conversos perished within forty-eight hours. By the third day there were no more Conversos in town because other Portuguese helped them escape.

King Manuel severely punished the inhabitants who took part in the killings. The ringleaders were either hanged or quartered, and the Dominicans who had occasioned the riot were garroted and burned. Local people convicted of murder or pillage suffered corporal punishment, and their property was confiscated. The king granted religious freedom to all Conversos for twenty years. Lisbon lost Foral privileges. The foreigners who took part in the massacre left in their ships with their loot and escaped punishment.

In 2006, the Jewish community of Portugal held a ceremony in Lisbon to commemorate this event.

The New Christians of Portugal, who were distinguished for their knowledge, their commerce, and their banking enterprises, and resented for their power by competing and lower class Christians, began to hope for the future when the foreign Jew, David Re'ubeni arrived. Not only was this Jew invited by King John to visit Portugal; but, as appears from a letter (Oct. 10, 1528) of D. Martin de Salinas to the infante D. Fernando, brother of the emperor Charles I of Spain, he also received permission "to preach the law of Moses" ("Boletin Acad. Hist." xlix. 204). The Conversos regarded Re'ubeni as their savior and Messiah.

The New Christians of Spain also heard the news; and some of them left home to seek Re'ubeni out. The rejoicing lasted for some time; the emperor Charles even addressed several letters on the matter to his royal brother-in-law. In 1528, while Re'ubeni was still in Portugal, some Spanish Conversos fled to Campo Mayor and forcibly freed from the Inquisition a woman imprisoned at Badajoz. The rumor spread that the Conversos of the entire kingdom had united to make common cause. This increased the resentment and fear of the populace. They attacked New Christians in Gouvea, Alentejo, Olivença, Santarém, and other places, while in the Azores and the island of Madeira they massacred the former Jews. Because of these excesses, the king began to believe that a Portuguese Inquisition might help control such outbreaks.

The Portuguese Conversos waged a long and bitter war against the introduction of the tribunal, and spent immense sums to win over the Curia and most influential cardinals. The sacrifices made by both the Spanish and the Portuguese New Christians were substantial.

Alfonso Gutierrez, Garcia Alvarez "el Rico" (the wealthy), and the Zapatas, conversos from Toledo, offered 80,000 gold crowns to Emperor Charles V if he would mitigate the harshness of the Inquisition (Revue des Etudes Juives, xxxvii. 270 et seq.). All these sacrifices, however, including those made by the Mendes of Lisbon and Flanders, were powerless to prevent or retard the introduction of the Holy Office into Portugal.

The Conversos suffered immensely at the hands of the Inquisition and in mob violence. At Trancoso and Lamego, where many wealthy Conversos were living, at Miranda, Viseu, Guarda, Braga, and elsewhere they were robbed and killed. At Covilhã the people planned to massacre all the New Christians on one day. In 1562 the prelates petitioned the Cortes to require Conversos to wear special badges, and to order Jews to live in ghettos (judiarias) in cities and villages as before.
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« Reply #43 on: December 07, 2008, 03:38:32 pm »



Marranos.
Secret Seder in Spain during the times of inquisition.

Painting by
Moshe Maimon








                                                           I N   S P A I N
 





The large numbers of the Conversos, as well as their wealth and influence, aroused the envy and hatred of the populace, whom the clergy incited against them as unbelieving Christians and hypocrites. The New Christians were hated much more than the Jews, and were persecuted as bitterly as their former coreligionists had been.

According to historian Cecil Roth, political intrigues in Spain promoted anti-Jewish policies, which culminated in 1391, when Regent Queen Leonora of Castile gave the Archdeacon of Ecija, Ferrand Martinez, considerable power in her realm. Martinez gave speeches that led to violence against the Jews, and this influence culminated in the sack of the Jewish quarter of Seville on June 4, 1391.

Throughout Spain during this year, the cities of Ecija, Carmona, Córdoba, Toledo, Barcelona and many others saw their Jewish quarters destroyed and massacred. It is estimated that 200,000 Jews saved their lives by converting to Christianity in the wake of these persecutions.

Another riot against them broke out at Toledo in 1449, and was accompanied with murder and pillage. Instigated by two canons, Juan Alfonso and Pedro Lopez Galvez, the mob plundered and burned the houses of Alonso Cota, a wealthy Converso and tax-farmer, and under the leadership of a workman they likewise attacked the residences of the wealthy New Christians in the quarter of la Magdelena. The Conversos, under Juan de la Cibdad, opposed the mob, but were repulsed and, with their leader, were hanged by the feet. As an immediate consequence of this riot, the Conversos Lope and Juan Fernandez Cota, the brothers Juan, Pedro, and Diego Nuñez, Juan Lopez de Arroyo, Diego and Pedro Gonzalez, Juan Gonzalez de Illescas, and many others were deposed from office, in obedience to a new statute.

Another attack was made upon the New Christians of Toledo in July 1467. The chief magistrate (alcalde mayor) of the city was Alvar Gomez de Cibdad Real, who had been private secretary to King Henry IV of Castile, and who, if not himself a "converso," as is probable, was at least the protector of the New Christians. He, together with the prominent Conversos Fernando and Alvaro de la Torre, wished to take revenge for an insult inflicted by the counts de Fuensalida, the leaders of the Christians, and to gain control of the city. A fierce conflict was the result. The houses of the New Christians near the cathedral were fired by their opponents, and the conflagration spread so rapidly that 1,600 houses were consumed, including the beautiful palace of Diego Gomez. Many Christians and still more Conversos perished in the flames or were slain; and the brothers De la Torre were captured and hanged.
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« Reply #44 on: December 07, 2008, 03:56:40 pm »









Riots at Córdoba



The example set by Toledo was imitated six years later by Córdoba, in which city the Christians and the Conversos formed two hostile parties. On March 14, 1473, during a procession in honor of the dedication of a society which had been formed under the auspices of the fanatical Bishop D. Pedro, and from which all conversos were excluded, a little girl seems to have accidentally thrown some dirty water from the window of the house of one of the wealthiest Conversos, so that it splashed over an image of the Virgin. Thousands immediately joined in the fierce shout for revenge which was raised by a smith named Alonso Rodriguez; and the rapacious mob straightway fell upon the Conversos, denouncing them as heretics, killing them, and plundering and burning their houses.

To stop the excesses, the highly respected D. Alonso Fernandez de Aguilar, whose wife was a member of the widely ramified Converso family of Pacheco, together with his brother D. Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordova ("el gran Capitan"), the glory of the Spanish army, and a troop of soldiers, hastened to protect the New Christians. D. Alonso called upon the mob to retire, but instead of obeying, the smith insulted the count, who immediately felled him with his lance. The people, blinded by fanaticism, regarded their slain leader as a martyr.

Incited by Alonso de Aguilar's enemy, the knight Diego de Aguayo, they seized weapons and again attacked the Conversos. Girls were raped, and men, women, and children were pitilessly slain. The massacre and pillage lasted three days; those who escaped seeking refuge in the castle, whither their protectors also had to retire. It was then decreed that, in order to prevent the repetition of such excesses, no Marrano should thenceforth live in Cordoba or its vicinity, nor should one ever again hold public office.

In 1473 attacks on the Conversos arose in numerous cities. At Montoro, Bujalance, Adamuz, La Rambla, Santaella, and elsewhere, mobs attacked and killed them and plundered their houses. At Jaén a constable who tried to protect the conversos was attacked and killed in church by the ringleaders. Mobs attacked conversos in Andujar, Úbeda, Baeza, and Almodovar del Campo also. In Valladolid groups looted the belongings of the New Christians, but there was a massacre at Segovia (May 16, 1474). D. Juan Pacheco, a Converso, led the attacks. Without the intervention of the alcalde Andreas de Cabrera family, all New Christians may have died. At Carmona every Converso was killed.
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